A farcical pizza!


This post is by Nancy Jardine.

It could only happen in Rome.

Picture this: I’m sitting on the plane last Wednesday 27th April 2016, during my return flight to Edinburgh after my utterly fantastic 3 day break in Rome, wondering what might be the requirements for doing some travel writing. I’ve never considered this type of writing before since I have to admit it’s not the kind of book or magazine feature I would normally buy.  Nevertheless, a quick Googling has given me this:

Have a clear storyline; Have a goal; Edit your experience to fit your story; Write an irresistible first paragraph; Include dialogue; Show and tell; Aim to entertain, not impress; Use vivid language; Leave signposts; Give yourself time to finish    or…

Clear writing style, without affectation; Strong sense of the writer’s personality; Use of the writer’s personal experiences; Vivid reporting; High literary quality and the accurate use of grammar and syntax; Meaty, practical and accurate information that is useful to the reader; Be Fresh; Be Personal; Be Funny; Be Surprising; Be Balanced; Be a Quoter; Think Like Your Reader; The Big Picture: What is the Main Point You Want to Get Across to Your Reader?

(http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/travel/travel_writing/how_to_write_perfect_travel_article.shtml  & http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/travel/travel_writing/how_to_write_perfect_travel_article.shtml )

All of these are pretty good ideas, but I don’t quite know if that’s the kind of writing that I’m cut out for.

I’m not going to post my whole 1500 word version of my kind of travel writing here – it’s way too long for this blog. However… here’s a little taster to whet your appetite for my farcical pizza article.

Basilica of St. Peter’s, Rome

Monday 25th April 2016: After a foot-numbing and leg-louping day of traipsing around the seriously gob smacking Vatican Museums collections; a tour of the Basilica of St. Peter; and a visit to the Sistine Chapel (You know that place where the artist Michelangelo literally lay flat on the top of scaffolding, for 4 whole years whilst painting a majestic ceiling N.B. it’s the only room that you aren’t allowed to take personal photographs of) my husband and I decided we deserved a lovely meal to round off the day before limping along to our little hotel, a perfectly appointed place for our short visit.

note the tight parking and small cars that seem typical in Rome

The Raganelli Hotel is on the Via Aurelia, a venerable ancient road which was first constructed about AD 240. Thankfully, the road surface has moved on to a flatter tarmac these days, so the ride on it isn’t too bumpy on what was originally a 15 feet wide road built to have two chariots move past in opposite directions. The cobbled, extremely narrow pedestrian pavements (sidewalks) about 2 and 1/2 feet wide are not exactly comfortable, though, and seem pretty old on the feet to me though they aren’t originals. (BTW- if the tour information says that your hotel along the Via Aurelia is about 3 kilometres from St. Peter’s Square, don’t believe it! A bus ride of 3 long stops and a Metro ride of around 5 stations definitely doesn’t seem to equate to 3 km)

An optimistic lanky waiter, wearing an aging yellow toothed tobacco stained smile, enticed us in to a pizzeria which was conveniently situated right beside the bus stop where we dribbled off the bus about 50 yards from the Raganelli Hotel. (N.B. – In typical Mediterranean style these canny waiters check their watches for the arrival of said bus so that they’re in sentinel post outside and ready for passenger disembarkation.) Professionally ushered into what would normally be the kerbside patio area – except that it was late April, raining, and only around  40 deg F – we were given a free table tucked neatly into a corner of the tightly packed tables layout.

We looked longingly into the main restaurant behind the brick wall but in limited  English (which we were thankful for since we don’t speak Italian) the very agreeable waiter gestured that the whole empty inside room wasn’t available to us. If we hadn’t been so knackered, we might have gone elsewhere but being unfamiliar with our surroundings we couldn’t contemplate another totter along the road to find another eating establishment and the patio heaters were blasting out sufficient warmth around us.

Pizza; the largest size bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water; and a carafe of local red wine was ordered as I surreptitiously removed my shoes. Whilst awaiting our food, I gobbled down about three glasses of water as we ruminated over the mind boggling Vatican treasures we’d just experienced.

2 with beards but you can see that my OH doesn’t go for the curly looks of Serapis, the Alexandrian god. 

Surprisingly quickly the pizza arrived. We smiled at the excellent service as we rehashed the absolutely breathtaking ceiling paintings in the rooms that we visited before we eventually reached the Sistine chapel (The Vatican Museums have many, many beautiful rooms to sample).  My pizza was delicious – a thin and crispy stonebaked base with a Capricciosa topping. Yum! I knew I was starving but acknowledged it really was a very excellent pizza.

After pouring our wine, the solicitous waiter hovered. Instead of asking if all was well with the meal he gestured that we might have a little move coming.

“A little move?” asked my husband somewhat hesitantly.

“We move your table. Through door.”

You can imagine there was one of those still moments of utter dread. It was raining outside. The waiter was pointing to the exit door of what would be the lower semi-glazed patio protection in summer time since the upper part was plastic windows beneath the retractable waterproof roof awning.

What on earth could we have done to offend that deserved being put outside?

Well… My travel tale of ‘The Farcial Pizza’ continues on my own blog  HERE if you’d like to read about the pantomime (and some complicated travel implications )that followed!

Or if your time is tight, then maybe you could add some tips on how to do travel writing…or tell me what you think the pantomime was that happened next? (wink, wink)

It’s also timely to note that I’m late with this blog post since it’s now May the 1st which is the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane, a feature included in Book 1 of my Celtic Fervour Series. My characters are northern Celtic Britons, not Celtic Gauls, but I just have to include one of the highlights of my Rome trip which was photographing the famous statue named ‘The Dying Gaul’. (I’ve got a fine time ahead of me since I have more than 600 photos to process! 😉 )

The Dying Gaul
Nancy Jardine writes:

CFS End Sept 2015Historical Romantic Adventures

#1 The Beltane Choice

#2 After Whorl: Bran Reborn

#3 After Whorl: donning Double cloaks

3 mysteriesContemporary Mysteries


Time Travel Adventure for Teens 

http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk   http://nancyjardineauthor.com/   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG and http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email: nan_jar@btinternet.com

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20 thoughts on “A farcical pizza!

  1. Fun post to read, Nancy. As to advice on writing travel pieces, buy magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and Travel And Leisure and read the stories. Even reading National Geographic helps. Interview interesting people in the places you’re going to write about, tell their stories.


    1. That’s great advice Mike, thank you. Now that my exciting week of travel is over, I’m not sure I’ve got much energy left for any ‘proper’ travel writing. I should have thought about writing about my travels a few decades ago but now I’ll maybe just sneak in the odd wee story on my own blog. 😉


  2. Great post Nancy! Brought back fond memories of my days in Rome, a city I adored! One thing that is a hoot is that nearly all of us get caught up in some kind of incident like the one you experienced. I’ve had several and to look back on them now is funny. I agree with Mike about the travel writing. I just picked up Conde Nast Traveler (for my art journaling) but found the articles interesting so decided to read it before I cut it up. Good luck!


    1. Hi Linda. Glad to be of service and able remind you of the fabulous city of Rome. Will maybe have to get a copy of that publication!


  3. Sounds like a??? Time. I’m hoping overall it was a great trip. I know with your love of history just seeing all the beautiful things there was fascinating. Thanks for sharing. Cher’ley


    1. You’re right! It was great to piece a lot of historical knowledge together, right in front of my eyes, Cher’ley.


    1. Thanks Abbie – but now, only a few days after I’m back home, I think travel writing might be left to others to do.


    1. Thanks, Neva. As Abbie says above a lot of the tips are similar to humorous fiction and I’m sure would be done well by many authors – though not my usual style.


  4. What an exciting adventure, Nancy! Thank you for sharing! Loved your descriptions!! I’ve done a few travel pieces for an online site, but that was many years ago. I have a story about America’s national parks coming out this summer in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. I love travel and I’d love to do more travel articles, but the timing isn’t the best at this moment…. although I keep thinking I should do another national parks piece soon and submit for a magazine’s winter edition (about winter in Yellowstone) — we’ll see how the week unfolds.


    1. I think you’re doing a lot of travelling as it is, Gayle, but writing about travels isn’t always the easiest or most convenient thing.


  5. I always wanted to be a travel writer and thought it’d be the best job. Sometimes I get the urge to write an article when I’ve gone somewhere exciting and then that desire fades once I get home and am comfy/lazy. LOL. I love Rome too. I’d love to go back because I went when I was in my teens. I know I’d appreciate it a lot more now. Thanks for the fun post, Nancy and gorgeous photos!


    1. I would have viewed Rome differently this time around had I visited when I was younger and that’s the case with me for revisiting most places, Sarah. I’m now trying to squeeze in enough time to process my 600+ photos.


  6. Loved the article. Now you need to decide who to send it to. Friends have asked me why I don’t write for travel magazines. My answer is the places I visit aren’t generally what publishers are looking to share with travelers. Also I prefer not to share my locations.


  7. A wonderful travel piece, Nancy, and of course I had to find out why you were moved. The photos are lovely, and I look forward to seeing the 600+ others, or at least a good percentage of them?


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